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News Update

Transparency, student data and modernization have been on the forefront of Oklahoma State Education Superintendent Janet Barresi's mind since she began her job in January 2011. Upon her arrival, Barresi saw the state's education technology was lagging behind, to say the least. Barresi implemented a new email and phone system, which previously had messages received through snail mail and without conference-call capabilities.

States have until Oct. 19 to submit applications for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, a competitive grant program to prepare more children, including those from low-income families, for kindergarten. The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are investing $500 million in early learning. "Investing in the health and educational development of our youngest children is critical to ensuring America's long-term strength and competitiveness," says Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Three years after tornadoes ripped through a high school, middle school and elementary school in the small rural community of Chapman, Kan., the school district's restoration project, which includes a new art building, will be completed January 2012. The high school, middle school, elementary school and gym, which opened in January 2011, include hallways without glass in the ceilings and stronger doors. The middle school has a safe room below ground that is designed as a tornado shelter.

As states now begin their transition to the Common Core State Standards, seven organizations have united to provide advice on issues related to the implementations of the mathematics curriculum and assessments.

Nationally, health-care costs are rising roughly 10 percent each year. Costs at the School District of Manatee County (Fla.), however, are rising at a mere 1 percent since the district implemented an employee wellness program, dubbed HealthVantage, three years ago. Since the wellness program took root, the district has saved nearly 14 percent on health-care costs compared to other districts and $1.3 million for medical and prescription services during the first half of 2010 compared to 2009.

Northeast Yucai Oxford International High School, a first-of-its-kind public school, opened its doors in Shenyang, China, this fall. The school, a joint partnership between Oxford (Mich.) Community Schools and Northeast Yucai Education Group in Shenyang, allows American and Chinese high school students to attend and earn dual degrees for each country.

$900,000 Buyout in Philly Arlene Ackerman

Arlene Ackerman is out as Philadelphia’s school chief, but she walked away with a buyout worth more than $900,000. Test scores increased under Ackerman, but there was often conflict between her and the teachers’ union and elected officials.


Work With No Pay

The salaries of regional superintendents in Illinois were removed from the state budget, although they have continued to work with no pay—for now. Gov. Pat Quinn has said the state's 44 regional superintendents are elected locally and should be paid by local funds.

An estimated 8,000 people made the trip to Capitol Hill on July 29-31 for the Save Our Schools March. The rally, which was reportedly supposed to draw about 1 million supporters, was held to elevate issues such as putting an end to high stakes testing, provide equitable funding for all public schools, increase family and community leadership in forming public education policies, and increase local control of curriculum.

School lunch programs have been under a fierce attack since the wellness wave hit the nation with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, says Dennis Barrett, director of food services at Los Angeles Unified School District. But according to Barrett, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put stricter guidelines on food, such as reduced sodium and increased portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, over five years ago.